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Purcell's Battery, CSA. Virginia Volunteers 1861-1865
The Purcell Artillery, a company of light artillery, was established in Richmond Virginia on April 20th, 1861. The battery was raised largely by the efforts of Daniel Hagerty, and was named for John Purcell, a wealthy Richmond merchant who financed much of its equipment. The first Captain was Reuben Lindsay Walker, a graduate of Virginia Military Institute, class of 1845. In civilian life Walker was a Civil Engineer and a planter. Daniel Hagerty was elected First Lieutenant in the newly formed battery. Elected to Second Lieutenant was William Ransom Johnson Pegram who had been sent to the battery as a drillmaster. Lieutenant Pegram would in later days become the commander of Purcell's Battery and also rise to become one of the Confederacy's most distinguished artillerists.
Purcell's Battery was engaged in numerous conflicts throughout the four years of the war, and was a significant contributor in the campaigns of the Amry of the Northerm Virginia. On April 1st, 1865 at Five Forks, Pegram who had by then become a colonel, was mortally wounded. Later that month, when Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse, Purcell's Battery was not among the Confederate soldiers paroled. It is presumed that it reached Lynchburg, Virginia and there cut down its carriages, buried its guns, and disbanded.
One Hundred and Fifteen years later, on a sunny spring day in may 1980, Richmond's Purcell's Battery was recommissioned in the North-South Skirmish Association. The first commander of the reactivated battery was Emory "Bud" Bock, who was instrumental in the organization of the modern Purcell's Battery. "Bud" Bock is honored by the Northwest Territory every season when it awards a trophy in his name to the team who has had the most new recruits return for their second season in the N-SSA.
Purcell's Battery has supported the N-SSA through competing, but also in terms of leadership roles. Of particular note is one member, Gerhardt Vikar who has served as Northwest Territory Commander (1995-1996), Adjutant (1992-1993), as well as Chairman of the NWT Rules Committee for a long run of years. In addition to these regional positions, Gary has served on the N-SSA's Small Arms Committee for over a decade, as well as serving the Association as its Inspector General from 1997-1999.
The Battery has done well over the years in competition. The first "moment of glory" was accomplished in 1988 when Purcell's Battery finished 1st Place Musket team at the annual Snyderville Skirmish hosted by the 1st South Carolina. In addition to winning the Northwest Territory's Jefferson Davis Award for the highest placing Confederate team, the Battery won the region's John Bell Hood award for the highest placing Musket team.
Another bit of glory was earned at the Fall Nationals in 1995 and 1996 when Purcell's battery finished 1st Place Class AA Carbine. Earning a National award has always been a significant accomplishment. The team members have performed exceptionally well in the Individual Competitions over the years as well, bringing home numerous medals to show off to families and friends.
Throughout the twenty-three years Purcell's Battery has developed into a family of close friends that enjoy the sport of Skirmishing. Many daughters and sons have followed their parents into the sport and are bringing their children to support us and cheer us on. Soon, those children and grandchildren will be steeping up to "the line" to enjoy this sport as well.
We welcome any interested party who wishes to join our family, add to the color of the unit, and will act in accordance with the unit goals, both in competition and in the field of fellowship.
Purcell's Battery also participates in the American Civil War Shooting Association (ACWSA).